WASHINGTON, March 10, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Kids in Maryland will unite against tobacco use on March 15 as they join thousands of young people nationwide to mark Kick Butts Day. More than 1,000 events are planned across the United States and around the world for this annual day of youth activism, sponsored by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. (See below for a list of local events.)
On Kick Butts Day, kids encourage their peers to be tobacco-free, reject tobacco companies' devious marketing and urge elected officials to help make the next generation tobacco-free.
This year, Kick Butts Day is focusing attention on how tobacco companies are enticing kids with a growing market of sweet-flavored products such as electronic cigarettes and cigars, threatening to addict a new generation. These products have proved popular with kids. From 2011 to 2015, e-cigarette use among high school students jumped from 1.5 percent to 16 percent nationwide, and more kids now use e-cigarettes than regular cigarettes. In addition, more high school boys now smoke cigars than cigarettes. E-cigarettes and cigars are sold in a wide assortment of candy and fruit flavors, such as gummy bear, cotton candy and fruit punch.
Tobacco companies also continue to spend huge sums to market cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, much of it reaching kids. Nationwide, tobacco companies spend $9.1 billion a year – one million dollars every hour – on marketing. In Maryland, tobacco companies spend $127.5 million annually on marketing efforts.
"On Kick Butts Day, kids stand up to the tobacco industry, and our nation's leaders must stand with them," said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. "We've made great strides in reducing youth smoking, but candy-flavored products like e-cigarettes and cigars threaten this progress. We need strong FDA regulation to protect kids from these sweet-flavored products. And elected officials at all levels should support proven strategies that prevent youth tobacco use, including higher tobacco taxes, strong smoke-free laws, funding prevention programs and raising the tobacco age to 21."
In Maryland, tobacco use claims 7,500 lives and costs $2.71 billion in health care bills each year. Currently, 8.7 percent of Maryland's high school students smoke.
On Kick Butts Day, kids join in creative events that range from classroom activities about the harmful ingredients in cigarettes to rallies at state capitols.
In Maryland, activities include:
Students at Annapolis High School will construct and sign a pledge wall, committing to a tobacco-free lifestyle and encouraging peers and loved ones to quit smoking. Time: 9:15 AM. Location: 2700 Riva Road, Annapolis. Contact: Bridgitte Hammaker (443) 286-6592.
Students at Mt. Royal Elementary and Middle School and the Baltimore City Health Department will hold a rally and a cigarette butt cleanup to raise awareness about the problem of tobacco use. The event will also announce the winner of a school-wide poster contest. Time: 9 AM. Location: 121 McMechen Street, Baltimore. Contact: Adrienne Williams (716) 390-0800.
In partnership with Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), students at C. Milton Wright High School in Bel Air will pledge to never use tobacco products. Time: 10:45 AM. Location: 1301 N. Fountain Green Road, Bel Air. Contact: Ginnie Bullis (410) 638-4110.
On March 22, students from the Country School in Easton, the Talbot Health Department and the Tobacco Restitution Fund will hold an interactive exhibit where kids will learn about the dangers of tobacco use through games, prizes and educational displays. Time: 9 AM. Location: 716 Goldsborough Street, Easton. Contact: Barry Cox (410) 726-1758.
All events are on March 15 unless otherwise indicated. For a full list of Kick Butts Day activities in Maryland, visit www.kickbuttsday.org/map. Additional information about tobacco, including state-by-state statistics, can be found at www.tobaccofreekids.org.
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SOURCE Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids